For the last few years, in consultation with parents, universities, teachers and other stakeholders, the government has been developing a new curriculum. One that was designed to support what they believe to be the fundamental tenants of 21st century learning. Recently, School District 57 began to hold consultations on the draft of the new curriculum and over and over again the same question kept arising. Funding.
I am a proponent of the new curriculum, it is not without its challenges and changes that need to be made to refine it and bring it from paper to reality, but it is most certainly a step in the right direction. However it will fail massively and horribly if it is not funded properly.
I will endeavour to explain it in laymans terms. 21st century learning is about learning how to learn. We are at such a point of economic uncertainty and rapid technological development that we do not know what exactly we need to know five years from now. The new curriculum endeavours to do this by allowing for greater control from teachers about how they get to the learning objectives. Rather than rigid content it gives looser outlines which allow for creativity from students and teachers in how they meet the objectives. In order to enable this looser framework it assumes that students have access to certain resources. Resources like the Internet, some form of computer technology, and access to resource personnel who can help them discover those resources.
Our schools wireless networks are not designed for so many devices. Our electrical systems cannot cope with the burden they have, and access to resource personnel like teacher librarians, and other support staff was cut drastically 12 years ago.
Kids need to be trained in how to use the Internet properly: how to find resources that are appropriate for their work; how to discern and discriminate between fact and opinion; how to be a digitally-literate citizen.
Thus, the governments behaviour in introducing and promoting this new curriculum and simultaneously and systematically reducing funding and cutting back when the curriculum they want is calling for more, shows how little they truly value public education. Yes public education is expensive. However, it pays back in spades when its done properly. One only has to look at the USA and how much is being spent on their prison system for those that the education system has failed.
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